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July 16, 2010 / Tony Arena

91 Fundamental habits of highly motivated small business owners

Not everything works for everybody. Although there may be common characteristics among successful small business owners, not every business owner approaches business the same way. Successful small business owners are masters at filtering knowledge and implementing only what works best for them. They create and discover fundamental habits that enable them to mover further faster.
Over 100 small business owners shared what core habits they have put into practice to sustain motivation and maintain success. Below are 91 fundamental habits of highly motivated small business owners. The best way to eliminate a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. Seek out those that suit your business needs, skills and capacity. Implement them, work at them and make them your own. Your business needs to be on your terms.

1. Transparency. P. Cheung, www.my-wedding-concierge.com

2. Work when the inspiration strikes you. H. Claus, www.365daysofstyle.com

3. Diversify projects to offset monotony. S. Horowitz, www.principledprofit.com

4. Respond to all inbound inquiries from clients and colleagues immediately. N. Marshad, www.marshad.com

5. Let others know what you are doing, achieving and pursuing. P. Draper, www.mentalmysteries.com

6. Be a source of information. S. Bloom, www.bloomreg.com

7. Set untouchable, personal time away from business. K. Sherkey, www.streamline6.com

8. Be committed to the community you serve. J. Flynn, www.thelegalcheckup.com

9. Work in your strengths. Do what you do best. D. Hensch, www.drh-group.com

10. Live below your means. Use profits to grow your business. P. Solomon, www.pablosolomon.com

11. Keep up with technology. Emerging technology allows small business to compete on all levels and if adopted and utilized frees an amazing amount of time. B. Attig, www.myretailcareer.net

12. Never stop marketing. No marketing = No sales. C. Ruenheck  www.itsyourcall.com

13. Never start the day without a plan. D. Furtwengler, www.furtwengler.com

14. Focus on results. Know what you are doing, how and why you are doing it. B. Flaxington, www.the-collaborative.com

15. Be willing to turn down business that does not pay you what you are worth. B. Phibbs, www.retaildoc.com

16. Discipline because there’s no “boss man” threatening to fire you. S. Fischer, www.fischer-law.com

17. Consistently meet and connect with new people and have a follow-up system. B. Basilico, www.b2b-im.com

18. Stay in contact with influencers, network and stay highly visible. L. Singer, www.hsdominion.com

19. Monitor your progress. D. Helbig, www.seizethisdaycoaching.com

20. Become an avid “inspirational seeker” – read inspirational quotes. R. Guerrero, www.ficklets.com

21. Consistency. Whether it is a blog post, a contest giveaway, or product updates on the website, it is very important in my business that it is done at the same period of time each and every week. M. Podlesny, www.averagepersongardening.com

22. Treat your customer with respect and always make it about them. C. Sisson Hensley, www.hopsports.com

23. Focus, focus, focus on identified target market, ideal client and revenue generating activities.  P. Mussieux, www.confidenceandcourage.com

24. Have a written plan. L. Tener, www.lisatener.com

25. Always be optimistic – yet tempered with reality. M. Pisik, www.breckwell.com

26. Live your top five values. Know your values intimately and be fueled by them. J. Hornickel, www.boldnewdirections.com

27. Listen at meetings, events, one-on-one, over the phone; any time you interact with another human being and you are in some way part of the conversation; listen to what is being said. D. Menzies, www.menziesconsulting.com

28. Sleep. Having enough sleep keeps your mind fresh and your mood positive. J. Johnson, www.allmomsgotoheaven.com

29. Learn to manage your schedule. D. Moseley-Williams, www.moseleywilliams.com

30. Frequently ask yourself, “What will be my legacy?” Be legacy-driven, not only hitting the mark, but also leaving a mark. V. Ashford, www.fearlessleading.com

31. Add value above and beyond your peers and competitors. D. Dalka, www.daviddalka.com

32. Don’t think you can’t; assume you can. J. Fender, www.accessmainstreet.com

33. Have integrity. When you operate from a fundamental position centered on integrity you have the ability to gain the trust and respect of your clients. G. DeRosa, www.cgmaterials.com

34. Maintain balance — Without balance, you may lose sight of the really important reasons why your vision becomes your dream (i.e. family, ethics, community service, etc.) J. Patterson, www.e-LYNXX.com

35. Do your most important work first every day. T. Tervooren, www.tylertervooren.com

36. Show keen detail to servicing your clients and their needs. Regard yourself as an extension of their business. E. Khalil, www.abelpromos.com

37. Skill development. You need to be the best at what you do. Constant education in your field is a must. M. Meikle, www.mikemeikle.wordpress.com

38. Regular analysis of the numbers. On a monthly basis, look at the profit and loss statement and balance sheet of your business. H. Schauffler, www.marketingwithhenri.com

39. Measurable goal setting. You have to know what you want to achieve to be able to achieve it. P. Geisheker, www.geisheker.com

40. Continuously ask yourself, “What’s the best use of my time right now.” B. Maher, www.barrymaher.com

41. Frame it in the positive because realizing the benefits in every situation is the foundation for growth. G. Shiffrar, www.shiffrar.com

42. “Work” at home – maintain a daily schedule of going to your office and closing the door each morning at a set time. S. Lamb, www.sandralamb.com

43. Respond to all customer feedback (positive and negative) immediately upon receipt. K. Pine, www.worldwiseewelry.com

44. Think like an innovator and trend-setter. J. Scardina Becker, www.eventsofdistinction.com

45. Learn to delegate. S. Olivarria, www.biggerthanyourblock.com

46. Ask for quality referrals, quality referrals, quality referrals. M. Henker, www.thehenkergroup.com

47. Keep improving your product or service. A. Sinha, www.accessconsultinginc.com

48. When you think you have worked hard enough, work harder. The business is your baby and must come first. L. Levine, www.profiledproducts.com

49. Eat right, sleep and exercise. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how great your plan or product is, if you don’t take care of yourself, you will burn out quickly. T. Tafur www.thomasinatafur.com

50. Take time to rejuvenate. A. Pelliccio, www.thehappygardener.info

51. Keep in touch with past clients as they are great referral sources and will come to you when they need your service again in the future. M. Ferletic, www.enterey.com

52. Under promise and over deliver. J. Gallacher, www.santacruzrehearsalstudios.com

53. Hire the professionals to do what you can’t excel at so you can use your time to do what you do best that generates income. Let them do the heavy lifting because they have the contacts and know-how. D. LeVie, Jr., www.kingscrownpublishing.com

54. Good writing and clear communication. Aim to write with clarity, correct grammar and punctuation; and whenever possible, with style. C. Sparks, www.holotropic.com

55. Network and leverage the resources of others with a win-win mindset. Ethically exploit the resources of other businesses, and share profits with them.  They understand joint ventures, strategic alliances and endorsed marketing deals. R. Brauer, www.prophet-marketing.com

56. Be outrageous.  Successful entrepreneurs are rarely run of the mill, boring or average. They approach business in a way so they ethically stand out in the minds of the market and the media. R. Brauer, www.prophet-marketing.com

57. Have a support system. Use the help of others to give you advice, provide a sounding board, and offer encouragement. Get into the habit of meeting regularly. J. Mounce, www.coacheffect.com

58. Bundle your services and products.  Make it easy for your customer to buy more from you by packaging complementary products. J. Crisara, www.contractorselling.com

59. Make sure you’re getting the best credit terms and discounts from suppliers. T. Anastasi, www.tomanastasi.com

60. Always stay caught up on your bookkeeping, bills and deliveries. J. Nielsen, www.myntstyle.com

61. Have a routine. Successful entrepreneurs create a routine of work that is consistent and fits with their lifestyle. D. Langton, www.langtoncherubino.com

62. Keep it simple. Write out business goals on one page. If you can’t communicate it to an employee or a business partner in one page, it’s too detailed – and no one will understand it. B. Leone, www.mrcopy.com

63. Surround yourself with highly motivated and talented people. B. Powell, www.yardshare.com

64. Put hard deadlines on a calendar, and to create a timeline of events that your customers, suppliers and prospects can hold you to. C. Goodwin, www.talkiscake.com

65. Don’t be afraid to fire the poor performers. C. Tuculescu, www.cosnet.com

66. Document procedures and processes, so that you don’t have to spend time training multiple people on the same thing. R. Bodon, www.onesmallstep.com

67. Make appointments with yourself. Block out time on your calendar for projects and don’t let anything move into that space; at least not without a conscious decision on prioritization. I. Miller, www.MentorMiller.com

68. Trust your gut. It feels things your brain does not. L. Taylor, www.nexgendigital.com

69. Know when to kill the idea. Abandon what doesn’t work or no longer works even if it once did. Don’t hang on to practices or business concepts because you are emotionally attached. C. Stewart, www.remarxmedia.com

70. Be a businessperson who wants to succeed. Don’t be a slave to your businesses; don’t work 20-hour days unless you’re under a tight deadline. Time isn’t always money, except when it is. K. Bretcher, www.brazenbutton.com

71. Persistence, persistence, persistence. The ability to face the myriad of obstacles that entrepreneurs will encounter, and continue to push forward, is the most critical (not the only) factor in success. G. Karwoski, www.creativepr.com

72. Ask for referrals and references regularly. The best leverage into new and varied business opportunities lies within the business you have done successfully already. M. Harris, www.aperturecapital.com

73. Look at everything from your clients’ perspective (it will help marketing). L. Aharoni, www.aqtext.com

74. Believe in your product or service. If you truly believe in what you do or sell and can convey that belief from the heart, others will too. Dr. R. Amicay, www.amicay.com

75. Listen to customers and adapt to changing needs and requirements. S. Donahue, www.skyya.com

76. Be Grateful. Always thank your customers, clients and even those who just act interested. Don’t try to sell anything when showing gratitude. K. Cahill, www.kriscahill.com

77. Collect e-mail addresses constantly and consensually. S. Dunseath, www.renoenvy.com

78. Keep the passion alive. Find things to stimulate you and challenge you so that you keep the passion for your profession alive. M. Verdin, www.verdinmarketing.com

79. Hustle. Constantly be on the lookout for story angles and places to tell your story (i.e. online, at events, to the press …anywhere).  N. Beckord, www.venturearchetypes.com

80. Establish a vision that you review daily and use as a touchstone to make fundamental decisions. G. Butler, www.butlerfitzgerald.com

81. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” and ask for help from seasoned council. T. Merrick, www.project7.com

82. Always keep an open mind (to new ideas, products, operational methods, etc.) V. Troyer, www.architecturalmailboxes.com

83. Have a willingness to learn from harsh feedback and mistakes made. E. Stutz, www.smoothsale.net

84. Do everything for yourself at least once. You gain valuable experience doing things for yourself. Afterwards, you can decide what is not core to your business success and outsource it. Dr. Z. Zguris, www.limetreecove.com

85. Show up. T. Scanlon, www.borgidacpas.com

86. Be consistent with your company’s image or else it will confuse and reduce your customer base. T. Hartl, www.sellingsunshinebook.com

87. Start with the easy stuff. It frees you up to focus on the tough problems by limiting distractions caused by other tasks. B. Law, www.primedesignsolutions.com

88. Follow up on every opportunity until you have an answer either way, meaning the customer has bought something, or ultimately says “no”. A. Sittig-Rolf, www.sittiginc.com

89. Block time for strategic planning and set time to check in on the business plan. K. Harad, www.newparentfinances.com

90. Pay bills and paychecks on time. Never being late on a bill is another big professional plus. Fast payments will foster loyalty with your employees and with anyone contracted for a project. C. Schexnyder, www.ohbabyfitness.com

91. Be the brand. You are your business. Everything you do reflects your brand. Protect it at all times. A.M. Blakeley, www.simplicitymastered.com

WANT TO RE-POST THIS ARTICLE ON YOUR BLOG OR USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE, E-NEWSLETTER OR WEB SITE? You may, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:
A.Michelle Blakeley is in the listening business. As a Micro Business Therapist, she provides an open-minded and non-judgmental ear to listen to the real issues and concerns that start-up, emerging and women entrepreneurs experience and negotiate solutions through comprehensive discussions and practical micro business plans. She is featured in Forbes.com and the Financial Post as one of 30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter, contributor for the San Francisco Examiner and Fearless Woman Magazine; the host of Simple Truths for Women Entrepreneurs on BlogTalkRadio.com and author of the NEW e-book: “Get it Right and Move Along… a collection of practical tips, tools and techniques for small business owners.”
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